Saturday, January 31, 2009

Restaurant Review: Citrus Bar & Grill

This past Monday, I had to attend a dinner meeting in Manhattan for work. I try my best never to go to luncheons or dinners unless I know the restaurant or the host has conveyed my dietary issue. Well, I didn't know the restaurant and found out that our host wasn't informed of my dietary restrictions. And I was going to an Asian-Latin Fusion restaurant.

On my way into the city, I stopped off and picked up some Immodium and Benadryl for my emergency supply kit. (I also picked up some Pepsi and Fritos for the road). Once in the city, I parked my car, ran into Fairway, and picked up this:

I usually keep both LaChoy Soy Sauce and San-J's Organic Wheat-Free Tamari in the house. And I forgot to bring it in. I prefer LaChoy, but when I realized I was on the UWS, I felt that LaChoy would be too "pedestrian" for this area - so San-J it was!

We were seated and I spoke to my host about my dietary issue. He pulled our waiter aside and told him I couldn't eat wheat. The waiter popped over to me and asked if I was gluten-free. I responded yes. He told me that he was a Celiac and he'll make sure I can eat. How awesome is that????

We had a prix fixe menu with three choices for a starter, three choices for our entree, and a dessert tray. With our waiter's recommendation, I had the Spicy Tuna Roll as my starter. It was a brown rice roll filled with tuna, radish sprouts, cucumber, and chipolte. The waiter even offered his stash of gf soy sauce! When it was being served, I had a different colored plate and our waiter served me while servers served the others. (My fellow guests thought it was odd that I carry my own soy sauce with me, though) And, even though, I am not a sushi person, I loved it.

For dinner, I also went with our waiter's recommendation of Pomegranate-Ancho Chile Glazed Salmon with wasabi infused cauliflower-potato mash and agave glazed carrots and zucchini. I haven't had salmon in quite a while and I did like the fact that it was hand farmed and also hormone & antibiotic free. The best part of the dish? The wasabi-infused cauliflower-potato mash. I could eat that for days! The waiter offered to bring me something different for dessert since we had mixed dessert trays with gluten-y goods on them. I was stuffed, so I declined.

This is one of the few times that I've felt comfortable and safe at a restaurant. I'd recommend Citrus to anyone.....

Citrus Bar & Grill

320 Amsterdam Avenue @ 75th Street

New York, New York 10023

(212) 595-0500

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Product Review Pt. 5: Cinderella Sweets/Shabati Gourmet: Florentine Lace Cookies

These were the cookies that I claimed as my own. I've been craving chocolate-filled, delicate cookies. These cookies fit the bill. Smooth, creamy chocolate. Crispy, nutty cookie. I devoured them with a tall glass of chocolate milk. I was in heaven!


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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Happiness is....Redbridge at King Kullen

Here in Staten Island, there was only two places for me to pick up some of my favorite beer, Redbridge. It wasn't cheap (not even reasonable) or convenient. Plus, I was always annoyed that Ant could pick up a six pack on a whim at the supermarket. After a Christmas and New Years of just wine, I knew I had to do something. So, I wrote emails to all of my local Staten island supermarkets - King Kullen, Stop & Shop, Pathmark, Shop-Rite, and Walbaum's.

I only received return emails from King Kullen and Stop & Shop. This is the email I received from Stop & Shop:

"Thank you for contacting us with your request for us to carry Redbridge beer at your local Stop & Shop stores.Because of the number of product inquiries we receive for the many thousands of available products, we regret that we cannot research each request we receive. We wish we could carry all available products, but that is not possible. So, we rely on market research, information provided by our suppliers, and, of course, what our customers are asking for. We make every effort to carry those products our customers want, and constantly review product selection and monitor customer requests. Decisions are based on product availability, customer requests, and the selection of similar products in the same category.Please know, however, that we will forward your request to the appropriate buyer for their information and consideration.Thanks, again, for contacting us. We appreciate hearing from you.
Sincerely, Jxxxx Wxxxxx Customer Care Representative Ref: 539494"

And then this is the email I received from King Kullen:

"The vendor will be delivering this item late in the week. I'd say by Friday.
Sxxxxx Gxxxxx King Kullen Grocery Co., Inc."

I went to King Kullen today. I picked up some Boar's Head (lovin' gf cold cuts) and then I went to the beer section. And what did I spy? REDBRIDGE. So, I bought two six packs. It made my night. And now my Super Bowl!

Also, another fun fact about the beer section of my King Kullen...they sell ping pong balls there. Yep. You can get your beer pong fix at King Kullen. I love King Kullen.



Thursday, January 22, 2009

Product Review Pt. 4: Cinderella Sweets/Shabati Gourmet: Brownie Bites


I was unable to taste these. Why? My husband/official taste tester claimed them as his own. I've never been a huge brownie fan and Ant's been a massive brownie fan for as long has we've been together. Since I've be gluten-free, he's been snacking on gf brownies.
He felt that they weren't bad - rich, chocolaty taste in a popable size. He did find them a little dry. Ant's a big fan of fudgy brownies - the more moist and rich, the better. These were more like cake brownies. So, he wasn't sure if it was the difference between cake and fudge brownies or they were dry.



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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Shredded Pork Tacos

I'm a big fan of the magazine Real Simple. I started reading it when I moved to New York. The organizational tips alone have been a lifesaver. Every so often I find a recipe in the magazine that I have to make for one reason or another. This month? Shredded Pork Tacos.

For those that don't know me that well, there are two foods that I won't eat - veal and pork products. I have never liked veal and once I dissected a fetal pig in Ms. Nathanson's AP Bio class in high school I haven't been able to eat pork. (FYI - we named our fetal pig Henrietta)

There are two exceptions to this rule, though - bacon and pulled pork. Bacon is obvious, pulled pork isn't. Ant thinks that I enjoy pulled pork because it's smothered in sauce and you can't tell that it's pork. He's probably right.

We ended up loving this dish. We'd make this again in a heartbeat. I used corn tacos, while Ant had flour tacos. Just keep in mind that it makes a lot of pulled pork. The wee one didn't want tacos, he opted for waffles. But, he loves limes.


Pulled Pork Tacos
adapted from Real Simple

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of store bought salsa (I put in a jar and 1/2 of Tostitos Medium salsa)
  • 4-6 tbs of chili powder, heaping (I used "hot" Mexican style chili powder)
  • 2 tbs of dried oregano
  • 2 tbs of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 2 1/2 lb boneless pork butt or shoulder, trimmed of excess fat
  • soft tortillas
  • sour cream
  • guacamole
  • shredded cheese
  • one lime, wedged

Directions

  1. Spray your 4-6 qt. crockpot with cooking spray;
  2. In the crockpot, combine the salsa, chili powder, cocoa, and 1 tsp of salt. Mix.
  3. Add pork to the crockpot and turn to coat.
  4. Cook until meat is tender and pulls apart easily (4-5 hrs on high, 7-8 on low)
  5. Heat tortillas according to instructions;
  6. Using two forks, shred the pork and stir into the cooking liquid;
  7. Serve with the warmed tortillas, sour cream, guacamole, shredded cheese, lime, and extra salsa.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Who doesn't like truffles?

MarxFoods.com Truffle Contest. Enter Here.

The fantastic purveyors of fine edibles, Marx Foods, is having a fresh Italian Truffles giveaway. I'm not talking about the truffles you get in the red, heart shaped box on February 14th. I'm talking about Black Italian Winter Truffles. Yeah, you know the kind I'm talking about. They are giving away 1/4 lb of Fresh Black Italian Winter Truffles which retail at $235.00. Enter...and share!

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Gluten-Free Pizza at Pizzeria Uno!

Guess where I went last night? I went to have some gluten-free pizza at Pizzeria Uno's!!! Yes. gluten-free pizza in a mainstream, large pizza chain. And it was delicious. I pink puffy heart Pizzeria Uno's.

Yesterday, I called Ant at work and begged him to take me and the wee one to Pizzeria Uno's that night for dinner. Living in the Shaolin (Staten Island, for those not following along), I have two choices for Pizzeria Uno's - going into Brooklyn or going to Jersey. Jersey was the clear cut winner since (1) the bridge is cheaper and (2) parking is easier to find. Ant begged me to call over to Uno's to make sure they had the pizza. I told him not to worry since all Pizzeria Uno's have gluten-free pizza starting this week.
So, we traveled to the Menlo Park Uno's and I saw this:
Yeah kids, this is the REGULAR GLUTEN-Y MENU. Yeah, our pizza is on the regular menu. No asking for the "gluten-free" menu. It's in black and um, yellowish on the regular menu.
The waiter came over and we ordered our drinks. The Menlo Park Pizzeria Uno is also a microbrewery, so Ant had a house-made microbrew and I opted for a glass of wine. When the waiter came back with our drinks, Ant and the wee one ordered a Pepperoni Deep Dish (non-GF) and I ordered the Pepperoni Gluten-Free Thin Crust. The waiter had a look of sadness on his face and said that they hadn't gotten in the GF Pizza Crusts yet. He went off to get me a GF menu....I was saddened that they didn't have it (and Ant saying I told you to call didn't help either) A few minutes later, the waiter came back to the table with a huge smile on his face. He spoke with the manager and said that the GF Crusts came in that morning and he put our order in.
A short amount of time went by and this was delivered to the table:
Oh yeah, a hot, fresh from the oven gluten-free pizza at a real restaurant. While I was enjoying the cheesy, pepperoni goodness, the manager stopped by and specifically asked how I liked my gluten-free pizza. I pointed out to them that we drove from Staten Island just for it and it was worth it.
Within a few minutes my pizza looked like this:

And I ate the last slice.
I definitely prefer this crust over the Still Riding Crust that is served at independent pizza parlors. This was a perfect flat bread crust with excellent sauce, cheese, and pepperoni. The crust wasn't chewy (which I find with Still Riding) and it was crisp and thin like a regular pizza.
The pizza is gluten-free, not Egg Free, Dairy Free, or Soy-Free. The ingredient list for the pepperoni pizza:
Gluten free pizza crust RICE FLOUR, FILTERED WATER, TAPIOCA STARCH, POTATO STARCH, ORGANIC EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL, VEGETABLE SHORTENING (CANOLA OIL, HYDROGENATED COTTONSEED OIL), SUGAR, CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF THE FOLLOWING: YEAST, SALT, EGGS, GELATIN, NATURAL FLAVOR, ORGANIC DEFATTED SOY FLOUR, EGG WHITES, LEAVENING (SODIUM ALUMINUM PHOSPHATE, BAKING SODA), SOY LECITHIN, XANTHAN GUM, GUM ARABIC, ORGANIC GUAR GUM., Mozzarella Cheese part skim Low Moisture Part Skim Mozzarella Cheese (Pasteurized Part Skim Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes), Pasta Sauce Uno (tomato puree, tomato, carrot, olive oil, salt, onion, garlic, sugar, spices, sugar, citric acid), Pepperoni pork, beef, salt, spices, sugar, sodium nitrate, oleoresin of paprika, citric acid, Romano Cheese grated (pastuerized sheeps milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes, anti-caking agent).
I am so happy that a national chain has given me pizza back! Go Pizzeria Uno!! Next, bring on the Redbridge!!!!!!!!

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Potatoes & Macaroni

When I first started dating my husband, I noticed we came from two different culinary backgrounds. My family cooked what I called Irish-style - lots of potatoes, boiled beef - warm, heavy meals that stick to your bones. Also, we ate a lot of 50's, 60's, and 70's American "cuisine" - casseroles with Campbell's Soup, etc. Ant's family ate Italian peasant dishes. Foods I never saw before or heard of - even in gravy joints. I never knew what real Italian cuisine was until we met. (Plus, they eat instant potatoes - yuck)


One of the first times I ate over at his parents house, we had Potatoes and Macaroni. Yes, starch and starch. Yes, our foodie sensibilities are shocked, and maybe even horrified by it - but, it's good. Very good. You will eat less of it, fill up fast, and for a longer period of time. Great for this kind of weather!


Since I've gone gluten-free, we haven't made it. I've really cut back on how much starch I consume since I don't eat bread or even that much rice pasta. The other day I was reading Mark Bittman's Bitten Blog @ the New York Times and his recipe of the day was Potatoes and Pasta. So, we decided to make it gluten free.


There were some lessons learned. The gluten-free pasta was way too gummy and the sauce was way to thick. I had a bag of Glutano Penne in the pantry, so I opted to use that. I'm not sure if it was the process or if it was the fact that the Glutano is made from corn that was the problem. I think it was a little bit of both. The next time we make it, we will use our trusty Tinkyada and at the end mix the pasta and the potatoes together.

Potatoes & Macaroni

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbs of olive oil
  • 3 to 4 medium potatoes, peeled and chunked
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large can of tomato sauce
  • package of pasta
  • Italian seasonings (oregano, parsley, basil), to taste
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Simmer 4 to 5 cups of water in a pot on your stove;
  2. In a large sauce pan, drizzle your olive oil & turn your heat to medium-high (this is on a second burner - water still needs to be simmering)
  3. Add potatoes, garlic, and Italian seasonings. While they are cooking, stir occasionally until potatoes start to brown;
  4. Add the tomato sauce, along with two ladle-fulls of the simmering water (approx 2 cups). Bring to a boil;
  5. Lower the sauce pan heat, stir occasionally;
  6. Take your dried pasta, give it to your almost three year old, and let him throw it around your house. Your pasta needs to be broken up.
  7. Once the potato/tomato mixture has been simmered for 10 minutes or so, add your pasta, salt, and pepper (be very generous with your salt & pepper - trust me)
  8. Add simmering water when necessary. This is a stew-esque dish.
  9. After 20 minutes or so, check your potato mixture. Potatoes should be tender and pasta should be past al dente. If so, serve hot.
  10. If you want to make it a starch triple threat - serve with bread.





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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Product Review Pt.3: Cinderella Sweets/Shabati Gourmet: Ring Tings

As you know a few months ago the amazing bakers at Cinderella Sweets/Shabati Gourmet asked me to review their products. I stink. Between getting sick and the holidays, I forgot to finish my series on their top notch products (and no, they didn't pay me to praise their wares). Well, lets get back to the review...

The Ring Tings. Yes. They are the GF, CF, Corn-Free, Lactose-Free, Soy-Free, and Dairy-Free answer to those gluteny cream filled, devils food cakes made by those evil supermarket standards. We devoured them in one sitting. On top of that, I made my husband pick some up in Brooklyn the next day.

If your loved one is GF, CF, Corn Free, Soy-Free, Lactose-Free, Kosher and/or Dairy Free these are the perfect Valentine's Day gift.


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How much do I LOVE the new and improved Gluten-Free in the Shaolin?

How much do I LOVE my new layout & look?

A TON!

I've been working with Jen at Trendy Mommy Blog Designs for the past few weeks on the new layout and look. Her work first caught my eye on the Jersey Girl Cooks blog. It's been worth the wait. Jen is my new best friend.

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Sunday, January 4, 2009

Split Pea Soup

This is the second time over Christmas vacation I made Split Pea Soup. For Christmas dinner, we had ham, so I saved the ham bone and some ham for soup. On NYE, I decided to make the soup, but ran into a problem. I scalded my hand on the soup. In my pain-fogged brain, I forgot that I put a herb satchel in the soup - and pulverized it with my sexy new immersion blender. When my better half went to eat it, he said "This soup would taste better if I didn't have to pick cheesecloth out of my teeth." He had a good point. Randomly enough, my in-laws opted to have ham for New Years Day dinner, so I claimed the leftovers and ham bone to try again. One of the more interesting things is that I don't like ham or split pea soup.

I based my recipe on a recipe from Elise @ Simply Recipes. And she based her recipe on a Julia Child recipe from Parade Magazine, which is based on a traditional recipe from Julia Child's book The Way to Cook.

Split Pea Soup
adapted from Simply Recipes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups green split peas
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 large leek, chopped
  • 1 large clove of garlic, halved
  • 1 herb bouquet (tie 3 cracked cloves of garlic, 4 to 5 allspice berries, 2 bay leaves, 2 teaspoons of thyme, a bunch of Italian flat leafed parsley in a washed cheesecloth)
  • 1 well-rinsed ham hocks
  • Cooked ham, in chunks
  • 2 1/2 to 3 quarts of chicken stock - we use Pacific Organic Chicken Stock
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions

  1. Pick over the peas and remove any stones. Wash and drain peas. Place in a 4 quart pan with the vegetables, herb bouquet, ham hocks and 2 1/2 quarts of chicken stock. Make sure to tie the herb bouquet to the side of your pan - in case you scald yourself...lol
  2. If you want a thin soup, add 1/2 quart more of chicken stock;
  3. Bring to a simmer. Skim the scum off the top of the soup for several minutes, until the scum ceases to rise. Cover loosely and simmer about 1 1/2 hours, or until peas are tender, stirring occasionally in case they stick to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Take the soup off heat;
  5. Remove bones, and herb bouquet from soup, discard. Make sure all bones are removed;
  6. Using your immersion blender (or food processor) puree soup.
  7. Correct seasoning.
  8. At this point, add in chunks of ham from the bone or leftovers;
  9. Reheat, taste again for seasoning.
  10. Serve warm

Hubby loved it and had me freeze the leftovers for later.

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